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Issue No. 222 28 May 2004  

The New Radicals
Many of us lament the fact the Labor Party has little these days to do with labour; some even whimsically remember how the Liberals were once liberal; but evolving world events are now putting a lie to that most enduring of political labels ‘the conservative’.


Interview: Machine Man
It’s regarded as the most powerful job in the Party, but new NSW ALP general secretary Mark Arbib wants to build a bridge with the union movement.

Unions: Testing Times
Unions are not opposed to drug and alcohol testing, but they do want to see real safety issues addressed, writes Phil Doyle.

Bad Boss: Freespirit Haunts Internet
FreeSpirit forked out a motza for a whiz bang internet presence then disappeared right off the radar – once it was nominated as our Bad Boss for May.

Unions: Badge of Honour
Surry Hills is home to one of the world’s finest displays of union badges thanks to Bill "The Bear" Pirie and a supporting cast headed by Joe Strummer, Mark Knopfler, George Benson, Annie Lennox and other seriously big noises.

National Focus: Noel's World
Shrill bosses bleat over minimum wage rise, union spinmeisters congregate in Melbourne and Tassie’s nurses take the baton from their mob in Victoria reports Noel Hester in this national round up.

Economics: Safe Refuge
A humanitarian approach to refugees and an economically rational one?? I’d like to see that. Frank Stilwell did, when he went to Young in NSW to look into the impact of the Afghan refugees on temporary protection visas who came to work for the local abattoir

International: Global Abuse
Amnesty International have joined the chorus against the violation of trade union rights in the former Soviet republic of Belarus.

History: The Honeypot
To the Honeypot come those individuals anxious to get their hands on instant wealth. So it was in the early days of Broken Hill, wrties Grace Hawes in this homage to the mining town.

Review: Death And The Barbarians
This new take on coming of age films focuses on the coming of death and the dignity and maturity it can inspire among those touched by it - though not always easily in the overcrowded Canadian public health system, writes Tara de Boehmler.

Poetry: Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Resident Bard David Peetz uncovers some of the unfolding mysteries of talk back radio.


 Why Cole is a Merry Old Soul

 Fight Breaks Out of Schoolyard

 Child Care for a Song

 "Back Off" Call To Death Inquiry

 Carr No Mussolini

 Sweet Box-all for Ballot Bureaucrats

 Unions Fire Up

 Beattie Papers Over Stink

 Glue Bullies Come Unstuck

 Johnnie Tugs the Rug

 Bank Jobs Under Spotlight

 Federal Muzzle for Shareholders

 Unions Earn $19 For Low Paid

 Fashionistas Go Fair

 Activists What’s On!


The Soapbox
Rethinking Left and Right Part 1
Dr David McKnight, from the University of Technology, Sydney presents a new frame for looking at the competing ideas within Social Democracy.

The Soapbox
Rethinking Left and Right Part 2
David McKnight concludes the paper he presented to the ‘Rethinking Social Democracy’ conference, in London, April 15-17, 2004.

Out On A Limb
Phil Doyle becomes the first Australian journalist to state that the Olympics will be called off.

The Westie Wing
In the latest episode, Ian West explores what Disraeli called "Lies, damn lies and statistics".

Message from America
Searing snapshots from a landscape of uncertainty have plunged the Bush Administration into deeper crisis, writes WorkingForChange's Bill Berkowitz.

 Howard The Chucker
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"Back Off" Call To Death Inquiry

Three horrific deaths in as many weeks have prompted the WA Government to bow to an AMWU demand for an independent safety audit of BHP Billiton’s Pilbara operations.

Now state secretary, Jock Ferguson, is asking vested interests, including the minerals giant, to "back off" and let Pilbara people have their say.

Ferguson criticised BHP Billiton for tying the future of its Boodarie Hot Briquetted Iron Plant, which employs 500 people, to the outcome of the investigation.

He said a public statement, made by iron ore division president Graeme Hunt, "cast a shadow " over the inquiry and potential witnesses whose families were dependent on the plant's continued operation.

Ferguson challenged BHP to commit to the hot briquetted operation before the inquiry opened.

His criticism followed claims form Port Hedland that safety had "plumetted" since BHP tried to drive unions out of its operations and used AWAs to create a climate where production took precedence over safety.

The call for an inquiry followed the May 2 death of 26-year old AMWU delegate, Cory Bentley, who was crushed in an early morning incident at the company's Port Hedland iron ore facility.

A mass meeting, attended by Ferguson and ACTU Pilbara organiser, Will Treacey, demanded an independent review as company reps started removing posters exhorting employees to "aim high, move fast", and graphically illustrating how far they had fallen behind million-tonne targets.

Treacey said Bentley's death came after a number of "near fatalaties" and a matter of hours after workers had notified the company of safety shortcomings.

Last week, a gas explosion at the nearby hot briquetted plant, saw Royal Flying Doctor Service aircraft from Derby, Meekatharra and Port Hedland mobilised to transport injured workers to hospitals.

The same day, a 19-year-old apprentice had his head crushed by a "piece of equipment" at the company's Iron Ore Body 25, operated by Henry Walker Eltin, near Newman.

Ross McKinnon died over the weekend as did one of the four burned workers rushed to Perth. Medics said AMWU member, James Wadley, had failed to survive burns to 95 percent of his body.

Two other men injured at the hot briquetted plant are still in Royal Perth Hospital with burns to 70 and 80 percent of their bodies.

On the eve of discussions with State Development Minister, Clive Brown, Ferguson refused to outline what the AMWU wanted from inquiry terms of reference.

"We are in touch with delegates, safety reps and communities in the Pilbara and will be guided by their advice,'" he said. "These are the people who know what's happending and the things that need to change.

"What we will be insisting on is an environment that encourages them to partiicipate without fearing for their jobs or furtures."


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